Officer who released ‘real’ Boston bombing suspect photos has hearing

A Massachusetts State Police sergeant faces a discipline hearing Tuesday morning because he released photographs of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to protest a Rolling Stone magazine cover that many thought glorified the defendant.

Sgt. Sean Murphy was relieved of duty without pay for one day after he released the photos to Boston Magazine last week in response to a controversial image on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
A Facebook page called “Save Sgt. Sean Murphy,” where a post said the hearing would be held Tuesday morning, has received nearly 60,000 “likes” so far.

The bombing on April 15 killed three people and injured about 260 others. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Officer Sean Collier was killed April 18, allegedly by Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who died in a shootout later with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested the next night in Watertown, Mass., where he had been hiding in a boat.


Rolling Stone put the younger Tsarnaev on its cover for a feature on the life of the suspected bomber. The image, which had been used by a variety of other media outlets, showed a dreamy-looking Tsarnaev with a visage more akin to the usual rock stars that adorn the magazine.

The image sparked anger across the country but especially in the Boston area and led Murphy to release photos of Tsarnaev taken the night of his arrest.

Three images showed Tsarnaev as he emerged from the boat, head bowed, with red smudges and streaks on his clothing and the boat. Murphy said in a statement to Boston Magazine that Tsarnaev is evil and that his photos show the “real Boston bomber, not someone fluffed and buffed for the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.”

Two of the images showed the red dot of a gun’s laser sight in the middle of his forehead and just above his left eye.

Tuesday’s hearing is closed to the public and will be held at State Police headquarters in Framingham. Murphy could be suspended or possibly fired for releasing the photographs without permission.

Murphy has been supported by the family of the slain MIT officer, which called the release a selfless act.

“Sgt. Murphy wanted to right what he and many in Boston and around the country saw as a wrong, and to counter the aggrandizement of terrorism by Rolling Stone magazine,” the statement said. “Terrorists are not rock stars and they should not be rewarded with fame and magazine covers.”


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